Hungary refugee crisis descends into violence, chaos

Violence broke out at the Röszke/Horgos border crossing between Hungary and Serbia today, after several hundred refugees attempted to break through the gate and border fence erected by Hungarian authorities. Hungary’s police force responded with tear gas and water cannons, injuring dozens of refugees who were treated by Serbian paramedics arriving to the border. Hungarian media reported that two children were  thrown over the fence into Hungary by adults, and their injuries are being treated on the Hungarian side. According to Amnesty International, three children were injured in the outburst of violence, but none are in life threatening condition. According to Hungarian government spokesperson Zoltán Kovács, 20 police officers were wounded after refugees began throwing rocks, water bottles and other projectiles at the authorities. György Bakondi, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s security adviser, told journalists that Hungarian police at the border were apparently given an “ultimatum” by a group of refugees, indicating that Hungary had one hour to open the border crossing to the refugees, or else they would resort to violence, in protest.

Al Jazeera television ran disturbing images earlier today of bloodied, badly injured refugees at Röszke/Horgos, as the violence continued for hours.

Al Jazeera coverage of the violence in Röszke.

Al Jazeera coverage of the violence in Röszke.

“Hungarian police are defending the Hungarian border with their own bodies against the armed, violent migrants, so that they are unable to enter Hungary unchecked,” said Mr. Kovács. “Today it has become clear that these people will not shy away from violence,” he added.

Refugees throw rocks, water bottles at Hungarian police, who respond with tear gas at the Röszke/Horgos border crossing. Photo: Tamás Sóki.

Refugees throw rocks, water bottles at Hungarian police, who respond with tear gas at the Röszke/Horgos border crossing. Photo: Tamás Sóki.

Following the outbreak of violence on the border, Hungary’s Interior Minister, Sándor Pintér, has ordered that the Röszke/Horgos border crossing be closed to all traffic for 30 days. According to reporter Tamás Szilli of the liberal Index news site, three fires were set on the Serbian side of the border by the refugees, enveloping the Röszke/Horgos crossing in a cloud of smoke. Mr. Szilli was the only Hungarian journalist who remained on the scene on the Serbian side of the fence, after Hungarian police “yanked his colleague back into Hungary,” according to his eyewitness report.

Hungarian riot police guard the Röszke border crossing, with a refugee shouting at them from the Serbian side. Photo: Sándor Újvári.

Hungarian riot police guard the Röszke border crossing, with a refugee shouting at them from the Serbian side. Photo: Sándor Újvári.

Hungary’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Péter Szijjártó, complained earlier today that Serbian police were not assisting Hungarian authorities in re-establishing calm at the Röszke/Horgos crossing. “Serbian authorities must act without delay against the aggressive immigrants,” declared Mr. Szijjártó, to which Serbia’s foreign minister said that he has no authority to order the police to act, but “forwarded” the message to Serbia’s interior minister. Serbia, however, is furious that Hungarian police threw tear gas canisters across the border onto Serbian territory and it was quite clear during the day that Serbian police were not going out of their way to assist the Hungarians in restoring order.

Meanwhile, Slovenia has joined Austria and Slovakia in suspending the Schengen Zone on the border with Hungary. Anyone passing the Hungarian border into Slovenia will now have to stop and show government issued photo ID.

Serbia is furious that Hungarian authorities have thrown tear gas canisters and aimed water canons into Serbian territory. Photo: Tamás Sóki.

Serbia is furious that Hungarian authorities have thrown tear gas canisters and aimed water canons into Serbian territory. Photo: Tamás Sóki.

Meanwhile, Hungary’s public broadcaster is providing live updates on what it calls “a siege at the border.”

Hungary, however, has not only badly strained its relationship with Serbia, but also with Romania, where Prime Minister Victor Ponta protested Hungarian plans announced yesterday to expand the border fence to along part of the international border between Hungary and Romania.

“Barbed wire, aggressive laws, prison and brutality will not resolve problems. I would be horrified to think about what to do if Hungarian troops begin to shoot or kill children and women.” said Mr. Ponta of Hungary’s approach.

Hungarian Foreign Affairs responded swiftly.

“Victor Ponta has lost all self-control, his mindless words have insulted all of Hungary,” declared Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó, who suggested that the Romanian prime minister war trying to deter attention from his own domestic challenges.

But the risk of sever overreaction from Hungarian police is a real one. According to the Magyar Nemzet newspaper, some police are on duty for up to 27 hours without any chance to sleep or rest, while many others have nowhere else to nap than in corn fields next to the border.  According to the report, many police officers do not have access to potable water, and they are relying on NGOs and some of the same activists who have been helping the refugees to bring them drinking water as well.

It is not difficult to see that this is a recipe for disaster, and far worse violence than we have seen today.

16 Comments

  1. András B. Göllner says:

    Mr Orbán cooked his own goose – the cocky, self-assured “man of action” is now in the middle of a turmoil whose outcome could spill over into a much broader, regional struggle with some of Hungary’s neighbors and threaten the stability of the entire region.

    Putin’s best Hungarian disciple had other options – it was not necessary to whip up anti-immigrant hatred in his country as early as the Spring. Under his stewardship, racial tensions grew faster in Hungary than anywhere else in Europe. He could have shown leadership to reverse that trend – he chose not to do so. He chose to outdo the second largest Hungarian political Party – the Jobbik – in fomenting hatred towards people of different colors and faiths. Instead of helping to eradicate the basic impulses that propelled Hungary towards an alliance with Nazi Germany, he chose to harness those impulses. Instead of sweeping Admiral Horthy off the pedestal, he allowed the former Hungarian leader to become a role model for modern Hungary. Instead of enlightening his fellow citizens he chose a different path. He made sure they would learn nothing from their eronious historical past. He is now reaping what he sowed.

    Everyone knows, that Hungary, a poor country, suffering from an exodus of its own population, can not handle this challenge alone. Everyone knows, that the migrants who are fleeing the worst violence in the Middle East are in a desperate state and have no desire to stay on Hungarian soil. Orbán chose instead to be the tough-guy. Like a true Husszár, he charged into battle instead of waiting for the European and global community to get its act together. Hubris is such a pathetic, sad failure especially when an entire nation is made to suffer from the leader’s pride and arrogance.

    It will take a long time for Hungary to win back the love and reputation of the world that it gained with its heroic uprising against Soviet oppression in 1956. It’s time for Viktor Orbán to go before he does more damage !! It’s time for Canada’s Hungarian community to stand up and sever ties with the affinity fraudster who wrapped himself in the Christian, Patriotic, anti-Communist flag as a means of gaining our confidence and love, only to use that confidence and love, to rob us of our dignity as a people !!!

    It’s time Canada’s Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, the leaders of Canada’s other political parties, the leaders of the EU send this pocket dictator packing from the community that was set up to preserve human dignity, racial equality and the rule of law. It’s time to bring Hungary back into the community that cherishes the rule of law and to give up Orbán’s experiment of redesigning Hungary’s polity along the Russian and Chinese templates.

    • “It will take a long time for Hungary to win back the love and reputation of the world that it gained with its heroic uprising against Soviet oppression in 1956.”

      Very optimistic view. I personally don’t think that more time will be given. It’s too late. Hungary cannot get back her feet without help from outside. Who will be the savior? Maybe someone who can explore the turmoil of a totally unstable Europe. Putyin? There will be more applicants I believe.

      Isn’t this migrants crisis like a war, when the soldiers were shot by an elite squad into a fight from behind? They shoot them “migrants” from behind to Europe, a large troop of migrants. They don’t need to kill in a new war. Not yet. It’s more profitable to loot them and they will die on their own anyway. And the war can come when the loot is in the safe. Firs loot, the dead doesn’t pay.
      It’s getting worse day by day. Looks like with this migrant project they are preparing something really big. Leastways, it look like that to me.

      But one thing is sure. Orban did his best deepening the crisis.

  2. I’ll just say “Wow”

  3. In the meantime the US Embassy issues visas to neo-Nazis to spread their message in the USA, and the EU sends its money to Orban and his corrupt government. And our ambassador from Hollywood is silent.

  4. I think this is exactly what Orban planned and hoped would happen. The government has been waiting for the moment when people would crack and start to fight back – there has been on-going provocation from the government. Refugees under all legal standards around the world have the right to flee from violence in their own country and expect to be provided the opportunity of refuge and asylum, are denied this, and not only denied it, they are treated like criminals and worse.

  5. Let us again take a moment to compare the warm hearted reception the Austrian government gave us, some 200,000 Hungarian refugees in 1956 as we crossed their border, to the incompetent inhumane reaction of the racist xenophobic Orban government facing just a few tens of thousands of refugees who have risked their lives and spent their life savings to get into western europe.

    None of them want to STAY in Hungary. They just want to pass THROUGH Hungary as quickly as possible.

  6. I’m NOT a supporter of Mr.Orban, but according to the weird previous comments I’m neither Mossad or Cia supporter. “Refugee” who “just wanna travel through an EU country to reach another” can be also ISIS or Alqueida member as they collectively REFUSING the basic identification process at the borderpoints. Ladies & Gentleman, not everyone blind here… It’s a timed happening of bigger geopolitical powers.

  7. Hard situation, Orban is not ready and not enough to handle this. He only made everything worse especially when a little cock focusing on his own dunghill tried to prepare the Hungarian populace for the crisis by creating a hate wave with his billboard campaign instead of making out good deal with the neighboring countries. The problem is that no one trust him.

    The migrants all of them seem to me trained recruits, armed even if not with firearms, they are strong young desperate men pushing their women and children before them and use violence. They have their trained leaders among them to help them push through using violence.

    They are doing this to get in, what will they do when they succeed and already in? They don’t wanna stay here? Old excuse it doesn’t work any more. That worked until now but now the situation has changed, Austria, Germany woke up and once them migrants get in Hungary Austrians won’t let them advance or send them back and they stay here or will try to escape back to the west only to make Hungary responsible for the bad treatment and will be sent back again. Good prison camp Hungary to become with cheapo Hungarian labour force. Not very promising.

    Now Roszke became another Lesbos. They are much too violent, there are too many of them and I believe it’s time to start worry for Europe and turn our humanitarian feelings toward the Hungarian populace and the Hungarian law enforcement before we have to flee from our homes. They deserve empathy too. This is getting too much and very dangerous.

  8. Look at this picture

    http://static.168ora.hu/db/0E/C1/drotjkerites-d00021EC19d2a25a6f8dc.jpg

    They are pushing their children and women ahead in the frontline followed by the troop of young men and well behind the at a safe place the trained mercenaries the fuglemen.

    Any sane, real, sincere refugee would save, protect and send the children and the women back and would bring the strong young once in the frontline.

  9. Excellent to see the Hungarians protect their borders. Wish we Brits had a strong leader to deal with our muslims. Why are these illegals not fighting for their own country instead of throwing babies over fences. God bless Viktor, at least half of Europe supports you sir.

  10. I very much doubt Mister Orban has cooked his own goose. Domestically, I think the violence of the (understandably frustrated) young migrant men on the border convinces most Hungarians that Orban was right. The border controls in Austria and Germany will further vindicate him. If Croatia and Slovenia descend into chaos, that will also further vindicate him. One or both countries may close down their borders, thus falling in line behind Hungary. Germany is considering legislation that will severely limit support for refugees, and it’s expected that it will scrutinize asylum applicants closely and not be too hesitant to repatriate economic migrants, or send some back to countries they have passed through. We will see about that, of course. Maybe it won’t happen. But a backlash in Germany is not unlikely, as pretty much everyone in that country now realizes they were carried away on a tide of of, let’s say, irrational and self congratulatory exuberance. And if some terrorists are going to be found among the refugees–and wouldn’t Islamic State be simply derelict in its duties if it wasn’t embedding operatives in this massive migration?–then Orban’s exclusionary approach will be….even further vindicated. It’s been a big gamble politically and could still collapse–he might have to backtrack for instance–but he looks to be in good shape for a big payoff. He’s the guy European politicians love to hate, but I think he reflects the views not only of a majority of Hungarians, but also of many Europeans elsewhere. To the extent that other countries begin to limit the inflow and express similar frustrations with the refugees and migrants, criticism of Orban will diminish and in the eyes of many people he’ll be scene as smart and decisive–just as he would like to be seen. I’ll bet a dollar on it.

    • You’re right in almost every aspects, the only problem I see on Orban’s side in the present game is that he uses his usual tool of hate mongering to gain confidence and is giving priority to his pursue of political power, thus he might change his mind and his line at any moment his fight for power requires an about face. That might not work in the long run the way he is planning now.

      Anyway, I think, unless he makes a fatal mistake within his own circles in the power game, they might wait with backstabbing him until the crisis is over as he can be very handy to assume responsibility for everything. And what about his enemies, the other countries and politicians and the ruling elite that might turn against him when it comes to the issue of personal safety? How long can his private army the TEK protect his life?

  11. én vagyok én te vagy te says:

    How about pictures from the Hungarian side of the border?
    Meanwhile, in Serbia. Police and border control just sit there, and watched the whole thing, did nothing.
    They not ever tried to take out the few who heated the atmosphere. One of them with full of tattoos, and a megaphone with Borders Kill sticker. Now I know, the megaphone is necessary thing if I have to leave my country.
    In addition, this week, the Croatians designed, they drove 1000 migrants into Hungary on train, with 40 Croatian police officers with firearms. Without telling anything to the Hungarian authorities. Also, they lied about it; they said the Croatian and Hungarian Interior Minister had an agreement. However, they are not spoke with each other in the last 6 months. Yesterday, the Croatian officials, cleared it, they did not told anything about the train. They just improvised, and lied.
    BTW, every government officials call them “migrants” not refugees. If someone is a refugee he/she is going to the border patrol and ask for asylum. How many of them did that? So, they are just going thru the countries without any ID, passport or anything, not even a birth certificate. How many of you able to do this? Do you able to cross the US-Canada border without passport, passport card or enhanced driver license?
    Some of you who left in ’56, why are you left!? Because of the communist regime, and watch yourself today, preaching the same ideology as the communists did. Praising Gyurcsány, who called in military from other country, and they never had nametags, and give them a fire order against his own people.
    All of you come back to Hungary live here when the horde is going thru the county, leaving trash mountains, not just preach from 6000 and 10000 kilometers.
    BTW, I am an American/Hungarian dual citizen. Moreover, I am not a neo-Nazi, or fascist, because I have different views than you. However, as I learned from your articles, name-calling only allowed for the editors.

  12. Greetings from Finland,

    the way Hungary manages this invasion, massive illegal entry of foreign people, is the only rational way. PM Viktor Orbán has very clear vision about the alternative paths to the future and he is leading Hungary to victory. We are in need of such a great, intelligent and brave man like Mr Orbán.

    Here in Finland we have an ongoing poll about the question: “Should the borders of Finland be kept open”? There are now 22628 votes, only 12% said YES and 88% said NO.

    http://www.mtv.fi/uutiset/kotimaa/artikkeli/orpo-verkkouutisissa-suomen-rajat-voitaisiin-sulkea-pakolaiskriisin-vuoksi/5320312#.VgHD9lKpxS0.facebook It is in Finnish language, the poll is located about 1/3 of page down and one has to vote before the results are shown. It has a huge amount of answers usually polls here only get about 1000 answers. The MTV is one of the two major news agencies here.

    Think about that. 88% of us would close our borders. But we do not have a hero such as PM Orbán.

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